Post Time- Kentucky Derby trail hits New York, Tampa – Buffalo Sports –

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Kentucky Derby

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Horses run during an early morning workout at Churchill Downs, Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, in Louisville, Ky. 

The Kentucky Derby trail stays in the Eastern time zone this weekend with preps at Aqueduct and Tampa Bay Downs.

The $250,000 Grade 3 Withers, to be contested at 1 1/8 miles at the Big A, attracted nine colts, and includes two hopefuls from the Todd Pletcher barn.

The trail also heads south to the gulf coast of Florida and Tampa Bay Downs for the $250,000 Grade 3 Sam F. Davis. The 1 1/16-mile affair generated a full field of 12 seeking valuable Derby points.

The top four finishers in each of Saturday’s races will accumulate 10-4-2-1 points toward a gate on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs.

Here’s a look at the entries for the Withers (post position, horse, trainer, jockey, ML odds in parenthesis):

Race 8 – Aqueduct, post time: 4:25 p.m. EST

1 – Shackqueenking (Capuano, McCarthy, 10-1). Shackleford colt ships from Laurel to try to enter the Derby picture. Has a couple of wins around two turns and the rail is red hot at the Big A. Chestnut colt has improved in every race since his maiden breaker. Could catch a piece of the super.

2 – Royal Number (Trombetta, Morales, 6-1). Impressive effort blowing away the competition at Laurel and ships north for trainer Mike Trombetta. How much credit do you give that last race is the major question. Son of Palace Malice can handle the distance, but the waters get deeper. On the fence.

3 – Capo Kane (Wyner, Davis, 3-1). Jerome winner on New Year’s in the prep for this race is the second choice on the morning line. Was 7-1 in the Jerome in the mud, shipping from Parx, but he won’t sneak up on anyone here. Sports a bullet work in Philly coming into the race. Pedigree screams distance and should be in the mix.

4 – Mr. Doda (Soto, Rodriguez, 30-1). Finally broke his maiden in his sixth attempt and steps right up to take on graded company. Posted a big number at Parx, but this is two turns at the Big A. Passing.

5 – Risk Taking (Brown, Cancel, 5-2). Chad Brown points his Medaglia d’Oro colt to a Derby prep after a monster maiden breaker for one of the top owners in the game. After disappointing on the grass, switch to dirt woke up the $240,000 Keeneland purchase to pay some bills. Has a nice pedigree and could put Chad on the Derby trail.

6 – Overtook (Pletcher, Franco, 6-1). First of two Pletcher horses, coming off a maiden win in which he closed from far back to win by a couple of lengths. Nothing flashy, but if there’s a pace meltdown, son of Curlin could be around to pick up pieces.

7 – Donegal Bay (Pletcher, Carmouche, 7-2). Son of Uncle Mo ships from Gulfstream where gelding broke his maiden impressively. The second-place finisher went on to break his maiden in January. Posted a pullet at Palm Beach Downs training facility last week and looks ready for roll. Contender.

8 – Civil War (Albertrani, Hernandez, 50-1). Son of Bodemeister is longest shot on morning line and hasn’t hit the board since his maiden win four races ago. Odd spot for Thomas Albertrani to put him in. Will need to make a major step forward and am just not seeing it.

9 – Eagle Orb (Rodriguez, Vargas, 10-1). Son of 2013 Derby winner Orb is a New York-bred for Rudy. Finished well-beaten second in Jerome after winning a nongraded stake at Aqueduct in November. Has only missed the board once in six tries against decent competition. Usable underneath in exotics.

Post Time outlook: 1 – Risk Taking; 2 – Donegal Bay; 3 – Capo Kane; 4 – Royal Number 

Sam F. Davis – Tampa Bay Downs – Race 11 – post time 5:02 p.m.

The race hasn’t exactly produced any major Derby threats in recent years, with 2006 winner Bluegrass Cat finishing third in that year’s Derby and going on to win the Haskell. The prep race for the Tampa Bay Derby is likely not going to be where we’ll find a Derby horse.

Pletcher ships Known Agenda (6-1) from New York to Tampa to separate his contenders. Hall of Famer Johnny Velazquez makes the trip up from Gulfstream to ride so there’s a lot to like. Bill Mott trains Nova Rags (4-1), a winner on track last time out and son of 2012 Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags. Boca Boy (5-1) attracts local rider Antonio Gallardo, who is winning at a 23% clip at Tampa. Morning line favorite Smiley Sobotka (3-1) was impressive in finishing second to highly regarded Keepmeinmind at Churchill in November, and makes his first start of the year for trainer Dale Romans.

Post Time outlook: 1 – Known Agenda; 2 – Nova Rags; 3 – Boca Boy; 4 – Smiley Sobotka

Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.

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